31 Dec 2018

Snowflake - NOT amateur radio

This was in Rose Crescent, Cambridge today. It makes a good seasonal decoration. Sadly, Kings College was closed.

All day on 160m FT8

Today, I have remained on 160m FT8 all day and I'll remain on 160m until the morning after breakfast. As on previous evenings, there are lots of Europeans being spotted. Usually WU1ITU is the first North American to be spotted. This station is usually first copied between 2030z and 2130z.

UPDATE 2246z: this station came through at 2047z tonight  :-)

Best Prices?

When looking around for good prices on amateur radio gear I looked at XBS Telecom. Their prices include VAT and a 2 year warranty and are much lower than the UK dealers prices. As far as I can tell the price in Euros is lower than the UK price in pounds. Someone, in the UK is a tad greedy?

See https://www.xbstelecom.eu/shop/en/

160m FT8 RX overnight

In all, 7 North Americans and 1 South American spotted, with best DX PU0FDN (6957km) on Fernando de Noronha off Brazil. This station was spotted in North America, Europe and South Africa, so is probably genuine.

UPDATE 1009z: Most of the DX has now gone, although OK6DJ (973km) was spotted in the last 15 minutes.

New QRPclub magazine

The latest QRPclub magazine is available for download.

See http://club72.su/vestnik/qv17.pdf

Sunspots - Monday December 31st 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0. A=10 and K=3.

30 Dec 2018

Grandchildren - NOT amateur radio

At the moment we have our "London" grandchildren staying. They miss their kitten. We bought them some toy cuddly kittens which were a hit at bedtime.

Return to topband

At 1553z I returned to 160m FT8. I called a German station, without luck, but spotted by G0LUJ (279km) and another G.

Since then, I have been on RX only. Lots of Europeans spotted. Best DX so far this evening is UA4HBW (3325km).

More amateur satellites

According to Southgate News a recent Soyuz (Russian) launch has placed more amateur satellites into orbit.

See http://russianspaceweb.com/kanopus-v5-v6.html

Baking - NOT amateur radio

Our granddaughter loves baking. Here she is busy making Yorkshire Pudding earlier today. She is pretty good.

472kHz WSPR overnight

In all, 19 different stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR overnight with best DX EA4GHB (1300km).

Panto - NOT amateur radio

Last night we went with our "London" grandchildren to the panto in Ely with their mum and dad. It  was "Jack and the Beanstalk".

Sunspots - Sunday December 30th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number 0. A=11 and K=2.

10m FT8

Quite decent winter Es on 10m today, with lots of EU spots on 10m FT8. Nothing outside Europe spotted so far. My own brief call (2.5W) to an EA4 was not spotted by anyone.

UPDATE  1441z: Now 33 stations in 14 countries on 10m FT8 RX today. All European.

29 Dec 2018

QSY to 472kHz WSPR RX

Although not quite dark, I have QSYed to MF for the evening and overnight. Results usually pick up after dark, although there is at least one station coming through with QSB. As I was just turning on, I was not able to ID it, yet.

Getting a bit lighter in the evenings - NOT amateur radio

Although the mornings get a little darker here until later next week, the evenings are already a little lighter. According to https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/cambridge it is already 5 minutes better at sunset. By the end of January, it is about an hour later getting dark.

Online radio magazines

Amateur Radio Weekly has reminded us that several radio magazines (some very old) are available online.

Although this is an American website, quite a few magazines are from other countries.

See https://www.americanradiohistory.com/

160m FT8 overnight

Just 5 North Americans and 1 Caribbean station spotted overnight on 160m FT8. Best DX was again KC6AWX (8553km) in California, USA.

10m FT8

Since 0959z I have been on 10m FT8. For a few minutes I called CQ (2.5W) with no spots. Since then I have been RX only with just 2E0XXO (121km) spotted so far.

UPDATE 1340z: 5 stations in 4 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1552z: Now 8 stations in 6 countries so far today on 10m FT8 RX. There may be the odd station still on 10m FT8 RX, but I shall probably QSY to MF (either 630m WSPR RX or 160m FT8 RX) when it gets dark.

Another grandson artwork - NOT amateur radio

Our 9 year old grandson at it again, this time sketching a parrot.

Sunspots - Saturday December 29th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN still zero. A=24 and K=3.

28 Dec 2018

9 year old's picture - NOT amateur radio

At the moment, we have one of our sons and his children staying here. His son (aged 9) painted this picture of our old house. It is now in pride of place in our bedroom.

No DX in the light on 160m?

Once it gets light the 160m FT8 seems to disappear. In the last 3 hours just one 160m FT8 station spotted, whereas 6 hours ago I was still spotting stateside stations. As an experiment, I am on 160m through the day as well.

160m FT8 RX last night

Not a bad night again with 30 North Americans and 1 Caribbean stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX with the best DX again on the west coast of the USA - KC6AWX (8553km).

Sunspots - Friday December 28th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number 0. A=4 and K=1.

27 Dec 2018

NHS Hospital parking - NOT amateur radio

In England, you have to pay to park at hospitals run by the National Health Service. Some of these fees have gone up. Whilst many plough money back into the NHS, this is yet another "kick in the teeth" for people visiting friends or loved-ones in hospital. This is cruel.

I think parking is free in Scotland and Wales. We are lucky in that we can park for free at a nearby "park and ride" site and with a bus pass busses are free after 0930z.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46687272 .

Oh I forgot, "we are all in this together", said with lots of sarcasm! Sounds like yet another tax on the poor to me.

10m FT8

Well, I have been on 10m FT8 for about 10 minutes. At first I called CQ (2.5W). As yet, no spots either RX or TX. Now I am RX only on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1315z:  Just a couple of G spots so far today. Best DX is G0NGL (222km). Poor!

UPDATE 1406z: PA8MC (404km) in Limburg spotted on 10m FT8. Aircraft reflection?

Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

We visit this National Trust property most months. Although it is in the top ten National Trust places in England and often busy, the grounds are so big you can often find yourself alone and far from crowds.

160m FT8 RX last night

In all, 40 North Americans and 1 Caribbean spotted here overnight on 160m FT8 RX as well as loads of Europeans again. Without doubt, the very best night this season! Best DX was K7RL (7605km) on the west of the USA. The earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground works fine.
Stations spotted overnight 
on 160m FT8 RX. Best yet!

Joule thief

If you have partially drained batteries, you may be interested in this idea. It can power LEDs from almost drained batteries, although with a bit of thought I am sure you can think of other uses.

This photo is on Wikipedia. The basic schematic is simple.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joule_thief .

Reconnecting Korea - NOT amateur radio

Nearly my entire life Korea has been divided.  Years ago I went to South Korea for work, but never to the north.

I gather there are holidays in North Korea to include visits to potato farms and processing factories - not exactly my "cup of tea".  😉

Now there is a project to join north and south by rail and road. I really hope people divided by war can move freely and see long lost relatives.

North and South Korea are very different places these days. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a capitalist city, oozing wealth. The northern state capital, Pyongyang, is very communist and controlled.  Let the people of Korea decide how to move forward.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-46686428/north-and-south-korea-ceremony-held-for-transport-re-connection .

Sunspots - Thursday December 27th 2018

Solar flux is 68 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=2.

Pye PF1 UHF handhelds

If you can find these, they can be converted to the 70cm amateur band, but they are hard to get hold of these days. TX power was 50mW. Perhaps they appear at rallies from time-to-time or on eBay?

My first project at work was converting these to 12.5kHz channel spacing. This was a task set by the late Mike Gotch, M0IMG. 

At the time I had no idea Mike was a keen amateur. Years before he had been a pirate and lost his licence I believe. In later years he was a keen 6m man. He retired early to care of his partner, who had cancer. Mike died as a result of the after-effects of a stroke.

The 12.5kHz version was never introduced commercially, but the exercise was a good one for me. The PF1, a product of the 1960s, transformed communications for the UK police. It was in 2 units, one for RX and one for TX. Even now, it still looks good.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vuhf/pf1 .

26 Dec 2018

160m FT8 RX

At 1510z I decided to QSY from 10m to 160m FT8 RX. As usual on 160m, I am using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. It is now 1517z and nothing spotted yet. Once it gets dark, this will no doubt change!

UPDATE 1556z: Getting dark here now and already 14 stations in 10 countries spotted on 160m FT8 RX. Best DX spotted so far is RZ6LY (2943km).

UPDATE 1840z: Absolutely loads of Europeans spotted on 160m FT8 RX again. Results on this band have far exceeded my expectations with all over Europe and North America spotted every night.
Stations so far spotted here 
this evening on 160m FT8 RX
UPDATE 2006z: WU1ITU (4831km) was first spotted at 1958z. This is the earliest yet.

UPDATE 2310z: With 10 North Americans spotted already on 160m FT8 RX this evening, this could be the best night yet this season. I'll check again at breakfast time.

E-field probe RX antennas

These are RX only antennas, but they can be remarkably successful on VLF, LF and MF. Years ago I made my own, but these days building and erecting is much harder.

A while back I bought an EFP from Roelof PA0RDT, although I have not got it erected yet. Roelof gets good results with his, although they need careful sighting to avoid noise pickup. If you are interested in the lower bands RX only, these antennas may be your answer.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/efp .



Sparkford village hall, Church Rd, Sparkford, Somerset BA22 7JN (on the A303 north of Yeovil). 10 Tables, light refreshments, off road parking, wheelchair friendly. £2 admission.10am till 3pm. Contact Bob Harris, G8UED, 01963 440167, wjh069@gmail.com.

A list of rallies can be found at http://rsgb.org/main/news/rallies/

Birthday - NOT amateur radio

A couple of days before Christmas I turned 70. To be honest, it only seems 5 minutes since I was 18. This photo shows some of my cards.

Winter Es?

As is my usual pattern, I am monitoring 10m FT8 RX this morning. So far 3 stations spotted in 3 countries, all European. I am wondering if this is winter Es (sporadic-E). It could be aircraft reflection. If it is Es, maybe there will be more southern Europeans later?

UPDATE 1458z:  Now 8 stations spotted in 7 countries so far on 10m FT8 RX today.

UPDATE 1510z: As 10m is just average today, I shall probably QSY to 160m FT8 RX shortly.

Miracle antennas

It is some years since I last used my Miracle Whip, but they have their place. If you are after a compact antenna that is easy to tune, these may fit the bill, especially with a counterpoise and on the higher HF bands, when they may be just a few S points down on a "real" antenna. They are no miracle and can only ever be as good as a small whip brought to resonance.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/mwhip .

Ba Humbug - NOT amateur radio

Christmas is meant to be a jolly and happy time.

At this moment my wife is playing a Christmas CD that is driving me insane!! Yes, I know it is a great time for children and getting together, but somehow things always seem more poignant at this time. Bad things always feel worse and I feel sorry for those in hidden pain (physical or mental) at this time.

To be honest, I am glad when it is all over and things get back to normal.

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Quite a decent night with 15 North American stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX, as well as loads of Europeans.

Sunspots - Wednesday December 26th 2018

Solar flux is 69 and the sunspot number 0. A=4 and K=0.

25 Dec 2018

Return to 160m FT8 RX

It will soon get dark here, so a QSY to 160m FT8 RX is in order. This can be done in the background.  160m FT8 has been a real eye opener for me. DX is there to be had every day. My "antenna" seems to perform excellently and I cannot imagine doing any better with a dedicated topband antenna.

As you may recall, my "antenna" is just the earth-electrode in the ground. The baseline is about 10m, maybe less. I think this acts as a loop. On TX, I have received spots on 160m FT8 from Sweden over 1000km away when using 2.5W.

The QSY was done at 1540z.

UPDATE 1552z:  Just 2 spots so far - M0RTP (116km) and DL6ZBN (605km). Once it gets dark there will be plenty of DX .

UPDATE 1615z: DX from across Europe is appearing. Best DX is RV3F (2384km).

UPDATE 1830z: Somewhere over 50 stations spotted in 15 European countries so far on 160m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 2145z: WU1ITU (4831km) was first spotted at 2128z this evening.
Stations received on 160m 
FT8 RX this evening so far.

Ripe for renovation? - NOT amateur radio

On our pre-Christmas lunch walk earlier, we saw this old Volkswagen. I think they enjoy restoring old Volkswagens at this place.

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Not the best of nights. 5 North Americans and 1 South American spotted as well as lots of Europeans.
Stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX with the 
earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground overnight

2m FT8

Whilst doing other things, I am monitoring 2m FT8 RX (saddo). Already 4 stations in 3 countries spotted with best DX being DF6PW (633km).

Happy Christmas - NOT amateur radio

Whatever your beliefs, or none, Christmas is a time for kindness and sharing. I hope you get some! From me, a very happy Christmas and may 2019 bring you success and good fortune.

Sunspots - Tuesday December 25th 2018 (Christmas Day)

Solar flux is 69 and the SSN 0.  A=4 and K=1.

Amateur VLF

Recently, there have been up to 4 stations active around 8.27kHz VLF. This is the excellent spectrogram at Paul Nicholson's station in Todmorden, UK. Such levels of activity are rare.

24 Dec 2018

Names leaked too soon? - NOT amateur radio

Yet again, the gutter press has released the names of 2 people questioned by police in connection with the shutdown of Gatwick Airport by drone flights.

It is my firm belief that no names should be released at all until people are found guilty. Mud sticks and many an innocent person has had his/her life ruined by being named when they are innocent or not even charged.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46675612 .

SAQ VLF transmission missed

Earlier today there was a CW transmission from SAQ on 17.2kHz. This uses an alternator TX and broadcasts heritage transmissions a few times a year. Years ago, I received a QSL card from SAQ for one of their transmissions. If, like me, you missed today's transmission you may like to look at this video of today's transmission.

See https://youtu.be/shqi43EV07c .

Now on topband

As 10m FT8 was flat today, I have QSYed to 160m FT8 RX with the earth-electrode "antenna". No spots yet, although I have only QSYed a few minutes ago and it is still light here.

UPDATE 1600z: Already 35 stations in 15 countries spotted on 160m FT8 with best DX RU4I (3202km).

UPDATE 1716z: The map shows the stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX so far today in the last few hours.
UPDATE 2034z: WU1ITU (4831km) was first copied on 160m FT8 RX at 2028z.

Iris - NOT amateur radio

This may have been on before, but it is a nice picture of a lovely flower seen at nearby Anglesey Abbey recently. Hope you enjoy it now, and possibly before!

Yes, it was on before last week!!

Sorry, but I really am losing it! My excuse is I post to so many places that I forget which - well that is my excuse. Truth is I cannot remember!

Ba Humbug - NOT amateur radio

Yes, I have officially become a grumpy old man!

My latest rant is about all the Christmas emails from companies and political parties. All they are really after is bigger profits or for you to sign up for their party. They have nothing to do with the spirit of Christmas. As soon as I get them they are deleted. Ba humbug.

10m FT8 RX

Most of the morning I have been on 10m FT8 RX. Only 2 stations spotted with best DX being DG5HR (719km).

UPDATE 1457z: One new spot from N.Ireland.

472kHz WSPR RX overnight

Last night, I stuck with 472kHz (630m) WSPR RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. In all, 14 stations spotted with best DX EA7HPM (1725km) in southern Spain.
Stations spotted on 472kHz WSPR overnight

Sunspots - Monday December 24th 2018

Solar flux is 68 today and the SSN 0. A=2 and K=1.

23 Dec 2018


At about 1510z I QSYed to 472kHz WSPR RX. Already LA and PA spotted.

Best DX on 472kHz WSPR RX is LA2XPA (1310km).

10m FT8 RX

Most of the morning, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far, 10 stations in 6 countries spotted here. I am pretty sure some are coming in by winter Es. So far, all stations are European, with best DX OK1BRG (1104km).

I shall probably stay on 10m until dark then try 630m WSPR RX with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

UPDATE 1440z: Still just 10 spots. Looks like we had some Es this morning and it has now gone.

UPDATE  1510z: No further spots, so QSYed to 472kHz (630m).


Last winter, I tried 137kHz WSPR and OPERA even though my FT817 is very deaf on LF.

In the past, when I was fit, I put my 137kHz beacon on QRSS3 and looked for the signal with a mag-mounted E-field probe on the car. Even though the ERP was low milliwatts at most, I got good copy the far side of Cambridge at about 24km.

At some point I should try 137kHz TX again. It was good fun. Maybe I should resurrect my 137kHz transverter. It is somewhere around.

Sunspots - Sunday December 23rd 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=3 and K=1.

160m FT8 RX overnight

Overnight 15 North Americans and 1 South American spotted on 160m FT8 RX with best DX N6VR (8354km) in Arizona, USA.

Antenna choices

In the very near future, I have to get a tree surgeon in to trim my silver birch tree. This is the support for the end of my 35W Par antenna for 10m, 20m and 40m. One possibility is the erection of my x80 vertical. This is in nearly new condition and has a 9:1 unun in the base to bring the SWR down to the sort of SWR that can be matched with most auto-ATUs. The drawback is it is quite "whippy" and blows around in the wind. It has never been used at this QTH.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/antennas/x80

22 Dec 2018

Paddy Ashdown dead - NOT amateur radio

One of the heavyweights of UK politics has died aged 77. Paddy Ashdown was one of the few charismatic leaders we had. One of the problems we have is a lack of real leaders in waiting. Most in politics seem to be there for their own advancement rather than for the greater good.

Although many did not like his politics, I liked Tony Benn. He was an honest man.

What the entire western world needs badly is leaders who want high office for the greater good and not self advancement.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46662546 .

Food this afternoon - NOT amateur radio

The previous post mentioned the gathering we had this afternoon for a few friends. The photo shows some of the snacks. My savoury tartlets (cooked earlier today) proved very popular! Most had gone even though I made 24. I shall have to do more tomorrow. The fillings are onions, cheese, red peppers, mushrooms, tomato and a tiny bit of chutney. Some had ham too. The secret is to cook these first and then put more cheese on top before baking. My wife does the pastry the night before. I roll this out very thinly.

Pre-Christmas gathering - NOT amateur radio

As it is my birthday tomorrow and Christmas on Tuesday, we had a few more friends around including Richard G3TFX and his wife.

Last week we had some of the neighbours around.

160m FT8 RX

About 30 minutes ago I QSYed from 10m to 160m FT8 RX. As on previous evenings with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground, lots of Europeans spotted. Overnight, I am pretty sure North Americans will be copied again. Best DX is UA4HBW (3325km) in Samara, Russia.

UPDATE 1847z: Best DX now on 160m FT8 RX is RO9O (5145km) in Asiatic Russia.

UPDATE 2015z: WU1ITU (4831km) already spotted on 160m FT8 RX. This is very early.
Stations spotted to 2030z this evening on 160m FT8 RX 
with the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground
UPDATE  2245z: The first Canadian this evening on 160m FT8 RX was VA2WA (5115km) about an hour ago.

Sunspots - Saturday December 22nd 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number 0. A=5 and K=1.

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Not a bad night again with 9 North Americans and 1 Caribbean station spotted. Best DX on 160m FT8 RX was  WQ5L (7347km) in Mississippi.

10m FT8

Since breakfast, I have been on 10m FT8 RX. So far today, 5 EU stations spotted in 4 countries.

UPDATE 1135z: Loads and loads of Europeans spotted on 10m FT8 RX. Is this winter Es?

21 Dec 2018

160m FT8 RX

Following my usual routine, I have now moved to 160m FT8 RX. Despite decoding loads of stations with the first few minutes, none of these have appeared on PSKreporter maps. This is odd as I re-synced the PC to internet time at the same time. It is either due to a lack of internet connectivity at my end or at the PSKreporter end.

UPDATE 1715z: All seems to be working again!

UPDATE 2110z: As well as loads of Europeans,WU1ITU (4831km) was first spotted here on 160m FT8 RX at 2104z.

Now on 10m FT8

At 0916z, I QSYed to 10m FT8 RX from topband. As I left 160m, there was an EI calling CQ. As yet, not unexpectedly, no spots on 10m FT8.

UPDATE 1201z: No 10m spots yet.

UPDATE 1302z: Just 1 spot so far on 10m FT8 RX: G0BNR (37km) - such great DX!

UPDATE 1500z: 4 stations in 2 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX today. Best DX is DG1RUG (554km).

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

In all, 19 North Americans spotted on 160m FT8 last night, with a couple still being spotted not long before breakfast. Best DX spotted was KY7M (8369km) in New Mexico.
Stations spotted on 160m FT8 last night

Sunspots - Friday December 21st 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN 0. A=12 and K=2.

Anglesey Abbey - NOT amateur radio

We are quite near to the National Trust place Anglesey Abbey. We go pretty often to check what is coming up in the way of flowers. January is usually a good month for snowdrops and daffodils and at the moment there are irises out.

VLF upconverter

Amateur VLF transmissions demand very narrow bandwidths, high stability, long integration times and special (free) software. By contrast, commercial or government VLF signals are often strong. These stations usually have high power and very big antennas.

To receive commercial or government broadcasters a simple upconverter is fine. An example of one is my design.

For amateur VLF signals this is almost certainly not suitable. Most amateur VLF signals are seen on a PC screen rather than heard.

20 Dec 2018

160m FT8 RX

 Since 1744z, I have been on 160m FT8. As on previous evenings, lots of Europeans spotted.

UPDATE 2222z: No North Americans coming through yet.

Nearly - NOT amateur radio

This morning we went to Anglesey Abbey hoping to see some early snowdrops and daffodils.

There were a few snowdrops out (not many) and one daffodil about to come out: it had dropped and needs a few more days.

Grand Arcade, Cambridge - NOT amateur radio

It seems everywhere is getting ready for Christmas, although the big stores and garden centres have been selling Christmas things since September!

I guess Dec 26th we'll have holiday adverts and Easter eggs on sale - all in the name of that god "profit".

The photo shows the Grand Arcade in Cambridge last week.

10m FT8

LA7DFA (1311km) was worked with 2.5W FT8 on 10m early this morning. Judging by the signal strengths, this was probably winter Es. This was a total surprise. In all, 5 stations in 4 countries spotted on 10m FT8 RX already.

UPDATE 1710z: 12 stations, all European, so far spotted on 10m FT8 RX today.

Germany on 4m next year

Southgate News reports that German amateurs will have access to part of 4m all next year. It would be good if they had a permanent 4m allocation. The ICOM IC7300 includes 4m. At the moment, few commercial rigs include 4m, which is getting more and more allocations.

See http://southgatearc.org/news/2018/december/germany-on-70-mhz-in-2019.htm#.XBtnYvZ2u00
See http://www.70mhz.org/index.php?categoryid=2&p2_articleid=316

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Quite a decent night with 9 North Americans and 1 South American logged. Best DX was KC9FFV (7612km) in Texas, USA.
160m FT8 RX overnight here

Sunspots - Thursday December 20th 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number 0. A=6 and K=3.

19 Dec 2018

160m FT8 RX

Just now I moved from 10m to 160m FT8. When I left 10m, it was very busy with Europeans. Right at the start, 160m FT8 was busy with Europeans such as UB5 and OH.  Still using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.

UPDATE 1824z: So far 22 European spots.

UPDATE 2154z: Too many Europeans to count! First North American copied on 160m FT8 RX was VA2WA (5115km).

BREXIT - NOT amateur radio

One thing everyone in the UK can agree on about BREXIT is, "this is a fine mess". The world must be looking at the UK and thinking how stupid we must be!  I am sure there is brinkmanship going on on the part of the EU and UK government, but at the moment we are heading (by mistake) for a no-deal BREXIT that no-one wants.

The EU does a lot of trade with the UK and we need EU low skilled workers in our fields, care homes and hospitals. The EU will miss our money going into the pot. The EU is desperate for other nations not to leave. Time will tell how this will pan out.

See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-46617152 .

MW broadcasters going?

Several broadcasters are leaving MW, instead concentrating on FM, DAB or the internet. The latest reported via Southgate News is a Belgian broadcaster on 621kHz.

This will eventually free up spectrum, perhaps for amateurs (?), but it also means the end of reception on extremely simple receivers like crystal sets.

I well remember falling asleep listening on my crystal set.

10m FT8 for the day

A few moments ago I QSYed to 10m FT8 for the day. No spots yet.  We'll see if there is any activity! Maybe a few Gs?

UPDATE 1123z: No spots yet.

UPDATE 1448z: 5 spots so far on 10m FT8 RX with best DX VP8LP (12773km) in the Falkland Is. Oh, by the way this is sunspot minimum!!

UPDATE 1758z: Loads of Europeans as well. The photo shows the 10m FT8 RX spots so far today. Soon be time to QSY to 160m FT8 RX.

Roses - NOT amateur radio

These roses on our kitchen table were bought a week ago by one of our sons for my wife. They are still going strong.

Santas - NOT amateur radio

My wife spotted these yesterday. Soon be Christmas. Bah humbug!

Overnight on 160m FT8 RX

Overnight, 20 North American stations (best yet this season) were spotted on 160m FT8 RX with the best DX being KC6AWX (8553km) in California.
Stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX overnight
Yet again, I was using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground. I think this behaves like a loop with best pickup E-W i.e. off the ends of the loop.

Sunspots - Wednesday December 19th 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the SSN zero. A=7 and K=1.

18 Dec 2018

Clunch outhouse - NOT amateur radio

My mind is confused and I don't think this has been posted before. If it has been on before, my apologies!

Close to our house is an out-house, or maybe dove-cote, made of clunch (a sort of chalk) that was badly damaged by our hot summer. Big cracks appeared and now it is being rebuild using the same stones. The photo shows before rebuilding started.

1.8MHz FT8 RX

For the evening and overnight, I am monitoring topband FT8 RX using the earth-electrode "antenna" in the ground.  So far, I have been on 160m for about 30 minutes. Most stations spotted so far are northern Europeans.  Best DX so far is OH3FM (1777km).

UPDATE 2200z: First North American spotted on 160m FT8 RX tonight was VO1IDX (3752km) at 2139z. Lots of Europeans.
Stations spotted on 160m FT8 RX until 2200z.

OFCOM to release new "airwaves" (sic)

Gosh! 700MHz and 3.6GHz spectrum to be auctioned. OFCOM provides such a useful service.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data/multi-sector-research/infrastructure-research/connected-nations-2018

Manned lunar missions - NOT amateur radio

It seems amazing to me that the first manned landing on the moon was in 1969 when I was still at university! Looking back, it all seemed so routine, whereas we had no real idea how dangerous these missions were. Just think of the computing "power" we had back then. The fact that no-one has been back since the early 1970s speaks volumes.

I well remember that photo of earthrise taken by the crew of Apollo 8 in December 1968. It was stunning. Apollo 8 was the first manned trip around the moon. It did not land.

When will the next manned mission to the moon be and when will man go to Mars?

2m FT8 RX

Yet again, I am monitoring 2m FT8. Already 7 stations in 3 countries spotted with best DX DF6PW (633km). This sort of DX is spotted every day on 2m with this mode.

UPDATE 1219z: Now 12 stations in 4 countries spotted today so far on 2m FT8 RX.

Sunspots - Tuesday December 18th 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number zero. A=6 and K=1.

17 Dec 2018

OFCOM again

OFCOM has just announced licence fees for mobile operators from the end of January.

See https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/130547/Statement-Annual-licence-fees-for-900-MHz-and-1800-MHz.pdf

Simple minds! - NOT amateur radio

A few weeks ago we bought a new clock for the hall. Every hour (not 2200-0500z) it plays a different birdsong briefly on the hour. Every time in makes a noise we laugh.

Simple things please simple minds!

Candlelit Carols - NOT amateur radio

Every Christmas our village church holds a carol service by candlelight. It is magical and usually packed. Whether a Christian or not, this sort of service marks the real start of Christmas.

Personally, I am unsure what I believe. The only thing I know is how little I know! Life/death/the universe are all mysteries. When we die I have no idea what, if anything, of "me" survives. Maybe my brain has evolved to the complex organ it is over billions of years. Perhaps we really just do return to dust. All I know is how little I understand. If anyone claims they know all the answers they are deluded. Maybe all religions are just attempts at answering "ultimate" questions.

Sunspots - Monday December 17th 2018

Solar flux is 70 and the sunspot number 0. A=2 and K=2.

2m FT8

Overnight, I remained on 2m FT8 RX. Even when the contest was over, there was still plenty of DX around. Most people appear have moved to WSJT-X V2.0 now.

Best DX at the moment is GW6TEO (371km) in west Wales.

UPDATE 1124z:  10 different stations in 4 countries spotted so far today on 2m FT8 RX with best DX DF6PW (633km).

UPDATE 1634z: Now 30 stations in 6 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1832z: Now 36 stations in 7 countries spotted today on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1902z: These are the stations spotted today on the 2m big-wheel omni antenna on 2m FT8 RX.

16 Dec 2018

VLF earth-mode transmitter

Before my 2013 stroke I enjoyed experimenting with VLF. Quite a few European amateurs were copied. This required special software, very narrow bandwidths and very long integration time. Casual listening does not work with very weak amateur signals!

In TX I was restricted, but did some useful experiments with VLF earth-mode. Best DX with 5W QRSS was 6km.

See https://sites.google.com/site/g3xbmqrp3/vlf/8-97khz-earth-mode-transmitter

Pre-Christmas drinks and nibbles - NOT amateur radio

As it is Christmas, we had the neighbours around for drinks and nibbles. Nothing fancy. I think everyone enjoyed it.

Brother-in-Law visit - NOT amateur radio

Yesterday, I mentioned that we had had a visit for one night from my wife's brother and his wife. This is a photo of them.

2m contest

There is a contest currently on 2m (MGM). I am monitoring FT8 RX with the big-wheel omni antenna.

Best DX was DF6PW (633km). Currently 6 countries spotted this morning. At the moment, nothing special: these sort of distances are possible every day by aircraft reflection on 2m FT8 RX.

UPDATE 1540z: I think the contest ended at 1400z. Busy on 2m FT8, but perhaps not much different to a normal "flat" day?
UPDATE 2107z: Still on 2m FT8 and still spotting good DX, presumably via aircraft.